Churches seeing decline in attendance

Published: Apr. 18, 2022 at 8:53 PM CDT
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WICHITA FALLS, Texas (KAUZ) - Churches across the U.S. have seen a 50 percent drop in adults attending in-person services. Studies show that this started after the pandemic restrictions were lifted.

Church membership was around 70% in 1937, and that number stayed the same for the next 60 years, according to several studies. But after returning to in-person services after the pandemic, churches are seeing a drop in attendance, especially in millennials.

“Culture is not helping anybody become closer to God,” Gene Holley, Life Church pastor, said. “There’s a lot of things that the younger people feel is more for the older generation.”

But here in Wichita Falls, one church stands as an exception to the statistics. Life Church has done so well in bringing people back to in-person services that they’re even starting to help smaller churches do the same.

“I’m working as a coach for churches across America in our organization for revitalization because it is an issue, especially for smaller churches,” Holley said.

In-person attendance is important for churches not only because of the emotional connection but because they also depend on donations and tithes to stay open.

“It’s definitely through tithes and through offerings, it is a sacrifice,” Priscilla Venegas, Life Church event coordinator, said. “It’s biblical to give and we follow what God says and it has sustained us through this time.”

One local pastor said that since he joined the ministry in 1994, he’s seen a decline in the number of young people attending.

“Since 1994 and it has changed a lot since then, not that many people come to church,” Mickey Carroll, Cornerstone Baptist Church pastor, said. “But yeah, the younger generations, I have seen that decline and go down quite a bit. Since COVID and after too, they haven’t come back to church yet.”

Churches with few members worry that if attendance keeps declining, it may lead to closures.

“Of course, it hurts the church,” Carroll said. “I just want to invite people, man get to your church, support your church. When you’re not there, you’re missed and if people don’t show up, the churches will have to close their doors.”

Carroll said Easter and Christmas are when he sees the most people attend church throughout the entire year. He hopes Easter Sunday will have sparked a change and that numbers will now start to grow.

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